The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has been a major topic among manufacturers and third-party logistics providers (3PLs) for several years. However, the IIoT is beginning to encroach on all aspect of manufacturing and supply chain management for its wide-ranging deployment and application to improving processes. In addition, the IIoT’s nature allows companies to reduce overhead and maximize efficiency without dramatically increasing initial investments. But, some companies have avoided this trend. Over 2017, this will become an impossibility as the IIoT by manufacturers moves closer to every aspect of the economy and business operations, and you know why.

1. The IIoT by Manufacturers Is Extremely Valuable.

Business has a way of moving toward technologies with the greatest value. According to Louis Columbus of Forbes magazine, the IIoT is estimated to unlock manufacturing savings more than $11 trillion by 2025 globally, boosting overall economic value by 33 percent. In the U.S., the IIoT’s value could easily surpass $3.7 trillion by 2025 as well. Meanwhile, the use of the IIoT by manufacturers will continue to transform business as its data-processing powers grow and provide unparalleled views and insights into how businesses, particularly manufacturers, can realize greater cost savings. So, how exactly does the IIoT achieve such savings?

2. Predictive Maintenance and Customer Marketing Analytics Will Cut Manufacturers’ Primary Costs.

Much of manufacturing overhead derives from costs associated with equipment repair and replacement and marketing to consumers. However, the IIoT can be leveraged to generate advanced predictive maintenance schedules, including rerouting of processes to equipment during times of repair, to maximize the life expectancy of each item. As explained by Shane Laros of, the IIoT, or Industry 4.0, put the power of maintenance into the hands of machine learning.

Parts can automatically detect their imminent failure, spurring workers to correct issues before they cause system-wide delays. Meanwhile, digital monitoring of equipment boosts operational efficiency by isolating potential problems and areas that increase a company’s costs.

For example, if a piece of equipment is using more electricity than other equipment of the same type, it may indicate a problem with its electrical wiring. Consequently, the information can be relayed to an appropriate party to correct the issue before it shorts out.

Concerning marketing benefits, the IIoT connects information generated by consumers through social media, point-of-sale systems, internet trends and beyond to manufacturers directly. As a result, companies can predict and respond to changes in the market with greater accuracy and precision. Although this is commonly compared to the usefulness of the basic Internet of Things (IoT), its connection to manufacturing begets the IIoT title. Essentially, the IIoT by manufacturers will serve to keep product costs down by cutting the costs associated with each item’s manufacture.

3. The IIoT Meets Demand for Increased Visibility.

Modern manufacturers have plenty to worry about, and visibility is often at the top of this list. As companies grow, the level of visibility is also directly related to the companies’ level of connectedness in its respective supply chain, reports Chad DeJong of Industry Week. The IIoT by manufacturers enables broad-scale implementation and visibility to companies expanding in size or changing business models. Since traditional, internal software systems cannot handle such increase in operation, the IIoT is the natural solution.

4. IIoT Deployment Provides Significant ROI.

Manufacturers are expected to invest more than $70 billion into the IIoT by 2020, reports John Greenough of Business insider. The following graphic details how this investment has increased since 2014.

iiot by manufacturers

Based solely on the increased investment rates, the use of the IIoT by manufacturers will become more important in the coming years. More manufacturers will leverage its capacity and analytics to bring costs to record lows and eliminate redundancy and inefficiency wherever possible.

The speed of realizing a positive ROI for implementing IIoT technologies is difficult to define in terms of averages. Some companies with extreme, inefficient overhead costs will realize returns earlier. Meanwhile, companies looking to cut minor inefficiencies and boost overall revenue may require months to achieve similar returns. Ultimately, the size of the company and the dedication in deployment determines the time to return.

5. Fear Is No Longer a Major Factor.

One of the main reasons companies have avoided the IIoT is fear of a cyber-attack. Who can forget the numerous attacks that have rocked national companies in recent years? In 2016, the largest cyber-attack in history took place, affecting DynDNS, impacting domain name servers (DNSs) and shutting many sites down for an extended period. In response to looming cyber security threats, more companies involved in the manufacture, distribution, and sale of IIoT-based products have increased cybersecurity spending by 23.7 percent since 2015.

In addition, overall spending to increase cybersecurity among the IIoT will increase in speed after 2020, reports Gartner. In fact, some experts suggest that up to 25 percent of all cyber-attacks will focus on IoT-based technologies after 2020, Therefore, the need for increased spending to prevent them will rise. In turn, the level of cyber security deployed in your company’s IIoT initiatives will increase as well.

The Big Picture.

There is no longer a logical argument against using the power of the IIoT in manufacturing and supply chains. Rather than waiting for your company to fall behind your competitors, you need to embrace the IIoT now. It is a reality, not science-fiction.

Ah yes, the Internet of Things (IoT), welcomed to the manufacturing family like a returning military hero – well, mostly. Indeed, the IoT has been commended for making the 10% of manufacturing plants and factories who use it more efficient and productive, through web connectivity right at this very moment.

If you form part of the 10%, welcome to industry 4.0. For those manufacturing firms yet to embrace the IoT, Forbes would tell you that ‘in a marketplace where you should be doing everything to survive, you’re lagging behind if you’re not taking advantage of internet connectivity.’

Don’t listen to Forbes, there will be reasons why you’ve not joined the IoT revolution yet, but we do suggest that you jump on the IoT bandwagon sooner rather than later. When you do, you can benefit from the pointers in this piece too, so don’t fret.

For those of you already familiar with the IoT, while its role in the here and now is important to your manufacturing operation, what role will it play in the future? What have you put in place to sustain the IoT on your manufacturing floor for years to come?

Let’s face it, the internet isn’t going to go away, but the devices you currently use on the manufacturing floor for connectivity won’t last forever.

That’s not to put the ‘kibosh’ on the Internet of Things, it’s undoubtedly transformed, and continues to transform, manufacturing. The IoT is forward-thinking, however, the reality is that the apparatus needed to sustain internet connectivity is vulnerable when used on the manufacturing floor.

The question is, how do you future-proof such apparatus?

We’re so glad you asked. Figurative show of hands if you use computers on your manufacturing floor. Right, that’s where to start. Futureproofing internet connected computers used on the manufacturing floor will go some way to sustaining the IoT for years to come.

How to future-proof manufacturing floor internet connected computers

Let’s put this into context. To futureproof cell phones, owners will put them in protective cases. To protect iPads, owners will put them in protective cases to prevent that nasty looking smashed screen effect. You see where we’re going with this, right?

You’ve got it. If you’re using computers on the manufacturing floor, you only have to consider the environment that those computers are expected to operate in to know that putting them in a protective enclosure makes sense.

To futureproof your internet connected manufacturing floor computers you need some serious hardware, and purpose-built industrial computer enclosures fit the bill.

We’re talking NEMA 4 or NEMA 4X level protection that will prevent anything getting in whether it’s dust, dirt, liquids or otherwise. What you get is a complete containment system for your computer. the internet of things computer guys

Sounds expensive you say. Evaluate the cost of an enclosure against the cost of losing internet connectivity for a couple of hours, rendering the Internet of Things useless, and investment in a computer protection system will seem like pocket change.

Make protecting manufacturing floor computers a priority and you’re making a start on futureproofing the Internet of Things. Computer enclosures are proven to last upwards of 10 years, allowing you to make use of the current IT equipment you have, without the need to constantly upgrade apparatus and software or retrain staff.

Not only that, computer enclosures will add value to your manufacturing floor by improving manufacturing productivity. They achieve this by reducing IT downtime, and crucially, keeping you connected to the internet.the internet of things computer guy

The 5 step plan to choose enclosures with the internet of things

We’ve put together this five-point checklist for choosing computer enclosures to futureproof the Internet of Things on your manufacturing floor. Knowing this will help you to quickly identify a solid solution for your factory or plant.

1. Only opt for National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) rated enclosures. Anything else will offer about as much protection as an umbrella in a hurricane.
Reputable suppliers will specify a NEMA rating, which determines what level of protection an enclosure provides against water, dust, and other foreign bodies.

2. Decide what application you need. If you’re looking to protect IT equipment from water or you work on a manufacturing floor where cleanliness is crucial, you should consider waterproof NEMA 4 computer enclosures.

If you’re looking to future-proof internet connected computers used in a more grueling environment, you should research industrial computer enclosures.

3. Opt for enclosures to suit your manufacturing floor layout. Computer enclosures can be wall, stand or floor-mounted; which is useful when it comes to saving or creating space and putting computer equipment even further out of harm’s way.

4. Opt for enclosures that offer flexibility – To minimize downtime, and to prevent lengthy periods of no internet connection, you need to be able to swap out IT equipment quickly and conveniently to get your manufacturing floor up and running again. Therefore, you should pick enclosures that allow almost instant access.

5. Opt for enclosures with a warranty – For your peace of mind, choose a supplier that offers a warranty on their enclosures.

Computers will play a key role in bringing the Internet of Things to your manufacturing floor. Integrate them correctly and you can sustain IoT for years to come.


Editor’s Note: This is our second post in a collaborative blog post series about mobility in manufacturing & logistics along with Catavolt, who helps manufacturing organizations drive operational excellence with mobile apps. We encourage our audience to visit The Catavolt Blog for more relevant posts about mobility in manufacturing for best practices, tips, and great industry insights.

Hyperconnectivity is the increasing digital interconnection of people – and things – anytime and anywhere. By 2020 there will be 50 billion networked devices. This level of connectivity will have profound social, political and economic consequences, and increasingly form part of our everyday lives, from the cars we drive and medicines we take, to the jobs we do and the governance systems we live in, to even the business technology systems we use. This growing movement of such hyperconnectivity is known as the Hyperconnected Era or often referred to now as “The Internet of Things.”

In this two part series around the Hyperconnected Era and “The Internet of Things” we will first explain what is the Hyperconnected Era and “The Internet of Things.” Tomorrow we will then go on to envision a not so distant future and what it could mean for manufacturers who are using business process enablement tools and systems through technology such as warehouse management systems (WMS), enterprise resource planning technology (ERP), track and trace technology, load optimization, GPS, RFID, Labor Management Systems, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) sytems, and of course, a system very near and dear to our hearts here at Cerasis, the transportation mangement system.

In our post entitled, “How 5 Emerging Technologies Will Change the Services of 3rd Party Logistics Providers” we briefly spoke about how The Internet of Things will affect logistics stating that it will increase visibility:

Visibility is one of the biggest problems for goods in transit. The application of the Internet of Things (IoT) along with cloud-based GPS will make it possible to keep track of individual items and their conditions. IoT makes use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips that “talk” to each other. Chips attached to individual items will transmit data such as identification, location, temperature, pressure, and humidity.

The implication of this capability will be immense. Goods will no longer be lost or misplaced in transit since each product will transmit its location. With immediate notification comes direct action and the avoidance of damaged goods when the chip signals oncoming adverse weather conditions, such as high temperature or humidity. Not only that, they will also be able to transmit traffic conditions and drive-specific data, such as average speed and driving patterns back to the central office. As supply chain and transportation visibility is a hot topic for Logistics Managers and Directors, 3rd party logistics providers, who adopt this type of technology, are surely to reap the rewards of highly satisfied customers.

This post got us and many others thinking about the more entrenched possibility of the Internet of Things and the rise of the “Hyperconnected Era” and it’s impact on transportation and logistics.

What is the Hyperconnected Era or “The Internet of Things?”

But first, let’s back up a bit. We never want to take for granted that although this subject is one of the hottest trends looking to transform the world the way the internet did that everyone understands what is the Hyperconnected Era of “The Internet of Things.”

The hyperconnected world is today’s reality. No longer are we in a world where consumers and employees “go online” to work, play, or purchase; we are now in a world where everyone and everything simply is online, whether at home, at school, at the office, or on-the-go. This new era brings with it an acceleration of innovation and disruption. It’s a world filled with opportunity for those willing to embrace it and able to tame it. All around us, across every industry, companies are discovering new audiences, creating new revenue streams, building new ecosystems, and inventing new business models – all online, all at an unprecedented pace. The Internet has evolved from being a “nice-to-have” – an additional channel for growth – to becoming the channel for growth and innovation.

What does it mean to be hyperconnected? Today, commercial wireless signals already cover more of the world’s population than the electrical grid, and the number of connected devices around the globe is expected to hit anywhere from 50 billion to a staggering one trillion in the next five years. The sheer enormity of digital information that now connects us is mind-blowing. Cisco estimated that by this year, the amount of data crossing the Internet every 5 minutes will be equivalent to the total size of all movies ever made, and that annual Internet traffic will reach a zettabyte – roughly 200 times the total size of all words ever spoken by humans.

For businesses, the hyperconnected world brings hyper-accelerated innovation. The Web itself has evolved from simple, static brochure-ware sites to highly interactive, personalized, rich applications driven by real-time data and social feedback. Mobile applications extend the evolution even further. As we use a growing collection of devices to stay connected – from laptop to tablet to phone to TV, we are changing the way we work, play, and communicate.

How did we get to the Buzzword, “The Internet of Things” or “IoT”?

The concept of a network of smart devices was discussed as early as 1982, with a modified Coke machine at Carnegie Mellon University becoming the first internet connected appliance, able to report its inventory and whether newly loaded drinks were cold.  Mark Weiser’s seminal 1991 paper on ubiquitous computing, “The Computer of the 21st Century“, as well as academic venues such as UbiComp and PerCom produced the contemporary vision of “The Internet of Things” or often shortened to IoT.

In 1994 Reza Raji described the concept in IEEE Spectrum as “[moving] small packets of data to a large set of nodes, so as to integrate and automate everything from home appliances to entire factories”. However, only in 1999 did the field start gathering momentum. Bill Joy envisioned Device to Device (D2D) communication as part of his “Six Webs” framework, presented at the World Economic Forum at Davos in 1999.

Kevin Ashton supposedly coined the phrase “Internet of Things” while working for Procter & Gamble in 1999. He later co-founded the Auto-ID Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Ashton talked in depth about IoT to the in 2009″

“Today computers – and, therefore, the internet – are almost wholly dependent on human beings for information. Nearly all of the roughly 50 petabytes of data available on the internet were first captured and created by human beings – by typing, pressing a record button, taking a digital picture or scanning a bar code,” Ashton explained

“Conventional diagrams of the internet include servers and routers and so on, but they leave out the most numerous and important routers of all: people. The problem is, people have limited time, attention and accuracy – all of which means they are not very good at capturing data about things in the real world.”

Ashton added that IoT had grown a lot since 2009, but he claimed it has still has much further to go. He’s looking beyond your car notifying you of a bogged-down toll road. In fact, he said IoT had the potential to change the world, just like the internet did (or “even more so”).

What is an Example of Internet of Things?

IBM’s Smarter Planet team created a 5-minute video that wholly explains Internet of Things and provides a brilliant example. Watch the video for more details, or you can just read Pocket-lint’s paraphrased summary below.

According to Gartner, Inc., there will be nearly 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020. ABI Research estimates that more than 30 billion devices will be wirelessly connected to the Internet of Things by 2020. As per a recent survey and study done by Pew Research Internet Project, a large majority of the technology experts and engaged Internet users who responded—83 percent—agreed with the notion that the Internet/Cloud of Things, embedded and wearable computing (and the corresponding dynamic systems) will have widespread and beneficial effects by 2025. It is, as such, clear that the IoT will consist of a very large number of devices being connected to the Internet.

Integration with the Internet implies that devices will utilize an IP address as a unique identifier. However, due to the limited address space of IPv4 (which allows for 4.3 billion unique addresses), objects in the IoT will have to use IPv6 to accommodate the extremely large address space required. Objects in the IoT will not only be devices with sensory capabilities, but also provide actuation capabilities (e.g., bulbs or locks controlled over the Internet). To a large extent, the future of the Internet of Things will not be possible without the support of IPv6; and consequently the global adoption of IPv6 in the coming years will be critical for the successful development of the IoT in the future.

What is “The Internet of Things” Impact on Manufacturing & Logistics?

Network control and management of manufacturing equipment, asset and situation management, or manufacturing process control bring the IoT within the realm on industrial applications and smart manufacturing as well. The IoT intelligent systems enable rapid manufacturing of new products, dynamic response to product demands, and real-time optimization of manufacturing production and supply chain networks, by networking machinery, sensors and control systems together.

Digital control systems to automate process controls, operator tools and service information systems to optimize plant safety and security are within the purview of the IoT. But it also extends itself to asset management via predictive maintenance, statistical evaluation, and measurements to maximize reliability. Smart industrial management systems can also be integrated with the Smart Grid, thereby enabling real-time energy optimization. Measurements, automated controls, plant optimization, health and safety management, and other functions are provided by a large number of networked sensors.

Logistics companies were among the first to adopt mobile devices as a means to manage and monitor their processes. Initially the hand-held devices that delivery drivers used delivered benefits primarily by simplifying and automating existing paper-based processes.

With the emergence of lower cost, always connected, location aware devices, the current generation of mobile technology and the growing Internet of Things allows logistics companies to move beyond simply making existing processes better, by making it possible to dynamically track both vehicles and the packages they carry.

The Internet-of-Things can include connected intelligence in different elements of logistics infrastructure:

There are several benefits of the future use of IoT in logistics and transportation, which we will paint a picture of in tomorrow’s post. The hyperconnected world and the “Internet of Things” presents  tremendous opportunities for businesses to lead through innovation and evolution. To do so, companies  need to understand the changing  business dynamics driven by the new online paradigm. What are you looking forward to most from the uprising of the hyperconnected era and “The Internet of Things?” Let us know in the comments section below!

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